OUR NEW GIRL
by Nancy Harris.
Bush Theatre 7 Uxbridge Road W12 8LJ To 11 February 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm
Audio-described 4 Feb 2.30pm.
Captioned 2 Feb.
Run 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 January.
A kitchen cabinet of troubles and growing tensions.
Goodness knows what’ll happen at Covent Garden’s Donmar Theatre when Josie Rourke takes over. At the Bush, she has not only seen a relocation from above a pub to inside an ex-library, but often shape-shifted the old auditorium from its traditional L-shaped pattern into a variety of configurations.
And Nancy Harris’s new play, part of Rourke’s final Bush season, is both like and dissimilar from the mainstream of ‘Bush’ plays. Charlotte Gwinner’s smooth production might form part of a Kitchen Sink season – the title of Tom Wells’ play, final Bush production of 2011, which Harris follows with her upmarket setting where pregnant Hazel copes with an excess of olive oil, a silently reserved son, unwanted new nanny Annie (the author’s well aware of the rhyme) and charismatic super-doc husband Richard.
Mark Bazeley’s tall, willowy Richard makes a fortune from cosmetic surgery and a reputation from pro bono doctoring in world hotspots. TV cameras inevitably follow his impressive figure, wrapped for outdoors in a colourful designer scarf.
Harris also offers what’s often described as a psychological thriller. There’s a touch of We Need to Talk about Kevin to the situation, a slight hint of The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and a fair amount of naturalised Pinter, in a struggle for possession of the kitchen, home-life and husband between the two women, with the son whose silent loneliness frames the action an added complication for Hazel.
Once a lawyer, she’s now swimming in the murky tide of the Italian olive oil trade, finding entrepreneurialism more difficult than she’d thought. Other apparently good things also clot-up her life.
Kate Fleetwood’s patient concentration humanises the suffering woman of thriller genre, fusing the aspects of mother-to-be, mother-of-difficult-child, wife-of-trophy-husband and homeowner-threatened-by-newcomer within an articulate intelligence. Denise Gough is a perfect contrast, the Irish farm girl with her own problems, an innocent predator, while Jonathan Tate, playing Daniel, has a fierce-eyed, frowning threat of malignity.
The end is over-easily resolved between mother and son, and Richard is an increasingly transparent authorial device. But the conflict between the women, and mother and son, are finely realised.
Richard: Mark Bazeley.
Hazel: Kate Fleetwood.
Annie: Denise Gough.
Daniel: Jonathan Tate/Jude Willoughby.
Director: Charlotte Gwinner.
Designer: Morgan Large.
Lighting: Hartley T A Kemp.
Sound/Composer: Elizabeth Purnell.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant director: Kirsty Patrick Ward.